Why you too are becoming a vegetarian

Article published 5 July 2023

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Why you too are becoming a vegetarian

What do solar panels and vegetarian food have in common? Both are important in the fight against climate change.

SCIENTISTS agree that vegetarians are healthier and live longer than people who eat meat.

Vegetarians have less heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Still, hot chips, cake, biscuits and ice cream are vegetarian food, and they are definitely not known for their health benefits.

In the main though, vegetarians stay away from these types of vegetarian food. They tend to be non-smokers (while tobacco is vegetarian!), eat whole grains, for example wholemeal bread, rolled oats and brown rice, vegetable oils, vegetables, fruit, unsalted nuts, lentils and beans: the list goes on.

But living longer is not the main benefit of vegetarianism.

Neither is fighting cruelty against farm animals, commendable as that is.

The main benefit of vegetarianism is the world continuing to be able to feed itself while not perishing in a natural disaster caused by the agriculture.

Worldwide agriculture is mainly about growing food for farm animals destined for the dinner plates of non-vegetarians.

The food eaten by farm animals produces mainly manure, urine and nitrogen. This means a lot of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere. Unnecessarily, you might say.

Because one gram of protein in chicken meat has generated ten times more the amount of greenhouse gases than one gram of kidney beans.

For beef, it’s eighty times.

So, by eating kidney beans rather than chicken and beef we can save the world, sort of.

Does the world and, more to the point, you (if you are a meat eater) need to convert to vegetarianism?

No, but reducing meat consumption should be seen as similar to putting solar panels on your roof or driving an electric car.

Switching, at least in part, to vegetarian meals becomes easier if you don’t see it as an ideological thing. You don’t need to become a hippy, although we hasten to add there’s nothing wrong with being or becoming a hippy, of course.

In fact, strict vegetarianism without any food sourced from animals is not even desirable, especially for children.

Unless great care is taken, sourcing vitamin B12, protein, calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin D and iodine exclusively from a meatless diet can be problematic.

So, even if you gradually change over to vegetarian food, you can still, and perhaps even should, have some meat or fish regularly.

The few farm animals needed for that purpose don’t require large-scale fodder operations. They can be fed on (vegetarian) scraps.

Australia’s four big supermarket chains Woolworth’s, Coles, Aldi and IGA all have dedicated pages on their websites and sections in their supermarkets to market their vegetarian offerings.

Vegetarianism is going mainstream. The question is: are you going vegetarian? If the truth be told: before long you won’t have a choice.

According to the European Communities, world food production needs to double by 2050 to cater for population growth. This cannot be achieved by the world sticking to meat and fish as staples. Environmental regulation worldwide will tighten, and meat and fish will become prohibitively expensive. Plant-based food will fill the gap.

That’s why you too will become mainly a vegetarian.


This article draws heavily on an article by Dutch food scientist Martijn Katan, ‘t Is zo deftig en zo fijn vegetariër te zijn

For more information please email our media contact at media@cpsa.org.au

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